Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program
Woman handling a horse feeding.

The Bureau of Land Management's Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program is a proactive program for protecting the welfare of wild horses and burros under the agency's management and protection. The BLM is committed to protecting animal welfare and providing humane care and treatment to all wild horses and burros protected by the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. 

The CAWP formalizes standard operating procedures surrounding animal care and handling; establishes formal training programs in animal welfare for BLM personnel, partners and contractors; and implements internal and external assessments for all activities undertaken in the Wild Horse and Burro Program. The program areas covered under the CAWP are:

  • On the Range
  • During Gathers
  • Off-Range Corrals, Transportation, and Adoption/Sale Events
  • Off-Range Pastures
  • Following Placement into Private Care

What is "Comprehensive"?

Woman standing with a burro on each side

Comprehensive means the standards for humane handling and compassionate care apply to all management activities undertaken by BLM staff, partners, contractors and volunteers. This includes activities on public lands, in BLM and contracted facilities, and during transportation. Comprehensive also describes the program's approach, which includes establishing standards, providing training, collecting data, assessing results and recommending changes. 

What is "Animal Welfare"?

Man with horse

Animal welfare is the physical and psychological well-being of animals and how they are coping with their environments. Animal welfare science considers three aspects of the animal’s physical and psychological state: body, behavior and mind. The body includes heath and function, nutrition, growth freedom from injury and disease. The mind includes emotional states, pleasure, suffering and fear. The behavior includes innate and learned characteristics and behaviors, and needs of being a horse or burro.

Program Components 

The BLM's Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program includes four elements:

  1. Develop the animal welfare standards. Standards have been developed and are in place for gathers and off-range corrals, transportation and adoption/sale events. Standards are under development or planned to be developed for on the range, off-range pastures and following placement into private care. 
  2. Train BLM staff, contractors and partners on the standards.
  3. Conduct animal welfare assessment using the assessment tool or checklist.
  4. Document, share and learn from the animal welfare assessment results to make program improvements where warranted. 

Learn more and access the CAWP policy